Earlier this week President Obama correctly noted that the penchant Fox News has for punishing Republicans who dare to work cooperatively with Democrats has the effect of discouraging Republicans from such cooperation. That rather modest observation has sent Fox News into a tizzy that all but validates the President’s point. They are simply incapable of processing anything this president says in a rational manner. In this case, all he said was this:
“One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”
That fired up the outrage machine at Fox. Fox Nation declared it to be a threat. Steve Doocy cast it as an attack on the First Amendment. Of course, any reasonable reading of it would find nothing approaching either of those wild overreactions. A threats implies consequences which were never articulated by the President. Nor was the First Amendment infringed upon because the free speech rights of Fox were never in any danger.
Doocy also lamented that Obama has some “scared Republicans in his camp.” By characterizing Republicans who have found some common ground with the President as “scared,” Doocy has also validated the President’s point that Fox punishes such agreement. In Fox’s world compromising with Democrats to move the country forward is evidence of cowardice. That sort of derision is exactly what Obama was referring to.
And it gets worse. Fox’s Peter Johnson, Jr. visited his kiddie pals at Fox & Friends to say that the First Amendment is now “seriously in doubt.” He interpreted Obama’s remarks to mean that the President regards anyone who disagrees with him as “an enemy of the state.” Where does he get this stuff? Johnson was so apoplectic about Obama expressing his opinion (which is also permitted by the First Amendment) that he wedded Fox News to the very concept of freedom saying “Without a free Fox, there is not a free America” Apparently, therefore, there was not a free America prior to 1996; there was not a free America during the entire Reagan Administration.
On the Fox News web site, fake Democrat Kirsten Powers wrote a scathing editorial bashing Obama as waging a war of terror on Fox News. She complained that “President Obama was back to his grousing about the one television news outlet in America that won’t fall in line and treat him as emperor.” Powers has gulped down massive quantities of the Fox Kool-Aid. But she is representative of the so-called Democrats that appear on Fox only to criticize other Democrats. The Fox version of fairness and balance is when Republicans and Democrats hate Democrats equally.
Ironically, the claim that the President makes about Republicans being vulnerable to Fox’s criticisms is one that Fox makes about itself. They consider themselves the last stand against the socialism they imagine is emanating from the White House. As Johnson said, they regard themselves as “the bulwark of our democracy.” Fox’s CEO Roger Ailes once assured Glenn Beck that he would have a free hand because “I see this as the Alamo. If I just had somebody who was willing to sit on the other side of the camera until the last shot is fired, we’d be fine.”
Fox freely admits that their intent is have an impact on government. They actually boast about the influence they have over representatives in Washington. Then, when the President notes that that is occurring, they explode with indignation over his alleged assault on freedom. It’s a cognitive disconnect that could span the Grand Canyon.
Most of all, it is whining of the highest order. No network bitches more about how they are perceived than Fox News. They spend innumerable hours complaining about their treatment by politicians, other pundits, and the whole of what they call the “mainstream media.” Sean Hannity has devoted whole programs to it. Fox & Friends denounces every media analyst as corrupt or even crazy. Bill O’Reilly has made the destruction of these scoundrels his life’s ambition, saying…
“[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down [...] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would.”
Setting aside O’Reilly’s insane vigilantism, the thing that Fox fails to understand is that the First Amendment applies to everyone, including the President. Fox seems to think that free speech is a one-way street and that if they express their brazenly biased views, anyone who who disagrees with them is trampling on their Constitutional rights. It’s a perspective that reeks of the censorship they pretend to be disturbed by.